Peter Sagan will continue his search for victory number one of the 2017 season and his Bora-hansgrohe career after placing second into Victor Harbor at the Tour Down Under, but it's not a result the Slovakian will be losing sleep over.
The hansgrohe sponsored stage was begging for a Sagan victory and arguably, so was the race, which has now witnessed nine straight wins by Australians including two from Caleb Ewan in three days.
"Still, I am not in the best shape for sure and for that I am also happy because season is really long and you have to think positive and we still have time to get good shape," Sagan said at the team van post-stage after watching a replay of the messy sprint finish with his teammates.
While Sagan would much prefer to head home with a win to his name, his season objectives are for the classics and Tour de France. Like the majority of European pros at the Tour Down Under, the race is important in the context of the season with many arriving in Australia well below 100 %. Sagan explained that in comparison, Ewan has enjoyed summer training in the sunshine with higher expectations and motivation for the race.
"I did one month without the bike, relax, holiday then I start to train for December and I am really happy how I am riding now and for sure he is really motivated for this kind of race," he said of Ewan, adding that a lack of sprint depth is playing into the hands of the Orica-Scott rider, while acknowledging that he can only beat the riders 'on the pitch'.
"It' his first race, he is racing in home, he wants to win, he is a good sprinter and for now, Kittel, Greipel, Gaviria, you know the best sprinters in the world, are not here. He is still winning a lot because he is the best here I think," added Sagan who still has two chance in the race to steal a stage off Ewan.
Asked of Ewan's potential, Sagan described the 22-year-old as a "really fast guy… but still he has to start riding big races." While Ewan has the world champion's measure in Australia, Sagan has bigger fish to fry and second place in Victor Harbor is likely to pale into insignificance at the conclusion of the 2017 season as he chases a sixth straight green jersey and third consecutive rainbow jersey.
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